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The Republican Mission to Destroy the U.S. Postal Service


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#1 LFC

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Posted 07 May 2020 - 01:06 PM

Republicans have been out to destroy the U.S. Postal Service for over 30 years. Let's do a little history lesson before noting contemporary attacks.

Back in 1987 Reagan and his merry band of destructionists put a target on the backs of multiple government agencies (bold mine).

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Against a Democratic Congress Reagan only succeeded in privatizing Conrail, the northeastern freight railroad taken over by the federal government from the bankrupt Penn-Central. Undeterred, in 1987, he created the President's Commission on Privatization. The commission developed a comprehensive road map of federal functions to privatize, including low-income housing, federal loan programs, air traffic control (still debated today), education vouchers, the Postal Service, prisons, Amtrak, Medicare, and urban mass transit. But the commission’s recommendations were again thwarted by the Democratic congress.


In 2006 George W. Bush and a lame duck Republican Congress launched the most devastating attack, one that is still hamstringing the USPS today.

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So why is the USPS struggling financially?

A lot of people point to the rise of email, as well as private competitors like FedEx. Certainly, all those things contribute to USPS's problems. But what's really dragging down the Postal Service is something else entirely.

Namely, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006.

Passed by a Republican-led Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush, the PAEA gave the Postal Service new accounting and funding rules for its retiree pension and health benefits. Up until 2006, the USPS funded those obligations on a pay-as-you-go-basis, pulling out of its pension fund and adding to it as retirees' costs came in. But the PAEA required the Postal Service to calculate all of its likely pension costs over the next 75 years, and then sock away enough money between 2007 and 2016 to cover most of them.

This is one of those ideas that sounds responsible on the surface but is actually pretty nuts.

Consider your average 30-year mortgage. What if you had to set aside a few hundred thousand dollars right now, enough to pay the whole thing, even if you were still going to make payments over 30 years? No one would ever take out a mortgage. That's the whole point: the costs only come in over time, and the income you use to pay them comes in over time as well. It works exactly the same for retiree pensions and benefit funds. Which is why, as economist Dean Baker pointed out to Congress, pretty much no one else does what the PAEA demanded of the Postal Service.

Meeting Congress' arbitrary mandate required putting away an extra $5.6 billion per year. "It is equivalent to imposing a tax of 8 percent on the Postal Service's revenue," Baker said. "There are few businesses that would be able to survive if they were suddenly required to pay an 8 percent tax from which their competitors were exempted."

Eventually, the burden became too great, and the USPS began defaulting on the PAEA payments in 2012. But the damage was done. The Postal Service lost $62.4 billion between 2007 and 2016, and its own Inspector General attributed $54.8 billion of that to prefunding retiree benefits. Without the PAEA, the Postal Service wouldn't be doing stellar. (Though you could plausibly blame many of its remaining struggles on the Great Recession.) But it probably would've spent at least part of the last decade making comfortable profits.

"The Postal Service's $15 billion debt is a direct result of the mandate," the Inspector General wrote in 2015. "This requirement has deprived the Postal Service of the opportunity to invest in capital projects and research and development."

In fact, it gets worse. The PAEA also required the Postal Service to invest its retiree funds exclusively in government bonds. Once again, this is a rather unusual practice. While it mitigates risk, it's also a great way to earn really low returns. Then the USPS has to set aside even more money to achieve the same benefit level. Baker calculated that just getting rid of this requirement could make the Postal Service profitable again.

Now, in a sane world, the USPS would be treated as a universal public good: Everyone would understand that it provides the bedrock delivery service to poorer and farflung areas that private carriers won't bother with because doing so isn't profitable. Instead, the Postal Service is expected to compete with the private market, and fund all of its costs out of its own revenue, without subsidies from the rest of government.

That's bad enough. But it's downright perverse to add extra handicaps that a private competitor like FedEx would never impose on itself.


Of course because the postal workers union is quite large that makes the USPS a perfect target for forced borderline bankruptcy. In 2012, lead by all around corrupt scumbag Darryl Issa, Republicans pushed to effectively take over the USPS's authority over workers' contracts.

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Issa and other Republicans have been insisting for years that to stay solvent, USPS needs to make big cuts. In 2010, Issa told the postmaster general at a congressional hearing that the Postal Service has “more or less a third more people than you need. He warned in an Op-Ed that “Allowing USPS to postpone billions in obligations just makes a bailout easier.” In a December Op-Ed, Issa compared continuing Saturday mail service to “asking us to revive the Pony Express.”

Instead, Issa proposes creating a new board that, in the event of default on pre-funding or any other Postal Service obligation, would be empowered to override union contracts and managerial decisions for years.


I'm sure there have been other attacks I'm not aware of but that brings us up to date on the long-term Republican goal of gutting and privatizing the USPS.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#2 LFC

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Posted 07 May 2020 - 01:10 PM

Now we have Trump assigning one of his "best people" to run the USPS ... into the ground. He's angling for a twofer, both the general destruction of the USPS union and a direct assault on his hated enemy Jeff Bezos.

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President Donald Trump has chosen Louis DeJoy, a GOP fundraiser who has also donated to Trump’s campaign, to be the new United States postmaster general at the United State Postal Service (USPS), an independent agency Trump has repeatedly attacked.

“Postal workers are the heart and soul of this institution, and I will be honored to work alongside them and their unions,” DeJoy said in a statement to the Washington Post.

USPS Board of Governors chair Robert Duncan, another Trump appointee, told the Post that DeJoy “understands the critical public service role of the United States Postal Service, and the urgent need to strengthen it for future generations.”

The new USPS leader has donated millions to Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee, and he is also the finance chairman for the GOP’s 2020 convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Trump has been railing against the USPS over the past several weeks, calling it a “joke” and refusing to allow the agency to receive emergency COVID-19 funds as it hemorrhages cash amid the outbreak.

The President has demanded the USPS increase its prices on packages, particularly as it relates to Amazon, which belongs to Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos. Trump is reportedly aiming at Amazon with his demand out of anger toward the Post’s coverage.

The Postal Service is also responsible for mail-in voting, which Trump has vehemently opposed even during the COVID-19 outbreak because it “doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”


It's classic Republican "governance." Drive something into the dirt, pronounce it a failure (while taking zero responsibility of course), and sell it off at bargain prices to your donors and cronies. Interestingly this sounds sooooo much like what happened when Russia's communist government fell.
" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer

#3 Rue Bella

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Posted 07 May 2020 - 01:32 PM

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The President has demanded the USPS increase its prices on packages, particularly as it relates to Amazon, which belongs to Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos. Trump is reportedly aiming at Amazon with his demand out of anger toward the Post’s coverage.

Bezos will survive. He has more than enough money for several life-times. The people who will suffer are the millions who buy through Amazon and will have to shoulder any increase in shipping rates. And Amazon rightfully will blame the president. Lose-Lose.

My biggest concern is the coming election, and serious damage that might be done to voting by mail. If getting rid of Trump means standing in long lines, in person, in a pandemic, people simply must do it.
What is wrong with these people? ~ PG

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#4 LFC

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Posted 13 May 2020 - 04:14 PM

Another attack on the independence of the USPS. Republicans have been clawing at it for decades in an effort to kill it. They then of course say it can't be trusted to handle mail-in ballots. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman has reportedly been forced out of his position, throwing the leadership of the U.S. Postal Service into further chaos as the agency faces a potentially catastrophic financial crisis and efforts by Trump administration officials to impose draconian changes on the nation’s most popular government institution.

The American Prospect‘s David Dayen reported Tuesday that Stroman resigned from his post earlier this week. “Sources indicate that Stroman was forced out,” Dayen tweeted.

Reports of Stroman’s ouster came less than a week after the USPS Board of Governors announced its selection of Louis DeJoy—a leading donor to the Republican Party and President Donald Trump—to serve as postmaster general as the agency continues to navigate the Covid-19 crisis, which has resulted in a precipitous decline in mail volume. Current USPS chief Megan Brennan, who is retiring effective June 15, has warned Congress that the agency could face financial ruin by the end of September without a rapid infusion of emergency funds.

DeJoy will choose the next deputy postmaster general.

Days before the USPS Board of Governors publicly announced its decision to appoint DeJoy, news broke that David Williams, the vice chair of the board, resigned effective April 30. Dayen, who has been reporting on the Postal Service for years, wrote last week that Williams’ resignation is “distressing” because “nobody is more knowledgeable about the inner workings of the Postal Service than David Williams.”

“He was the longtime Inspector General who wrote the famous (to me, anyway) white paper in 2014 arguing for the return of postal banking,” Dayen wrote. “Worst of all, my sources indicate that this was a resignation in protest.”

Williams was reportedly upset at the Trump Treasury Department’s efforts to use a congressionally approved $10 billion loan to force significant changes to USPS operations. According to the Washington Post, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin “could use the loan as leverage to give the administration influence over how much the agency charges for delivering packages and how it manages its finances.”

" 'Individual conscience' means that women only get contraceptives if their employers, their physicians, their pharmacists, their husbands and/or fathers, pastors, and possibly their mayors, Governors, State Secretaries of Health, Congressmen, Senators, and President all agree that in that particular case they're justifiable." --D.C. Sessions

"That's the problem with being implacable foes - no one has any incentive to treat you as anything more than an obstacle to be overcome."

"The 'Road to Serfdom' is really all right turns." --Progressive Whisperer

""The GOP ... where every accusation is also a confession." --Progressive Whisperer





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